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The Southeastern Conference will boast a Crimson streak next year.
Senior standout wide receiver and return man Justice Shelton-Mosley is set to transfer to Vanderbilt University next season. Shelton-Mosley appeared in only four games in the fall before a serious leg injury ended his season, so he will be eligible for one more NCAA campaign under recently updated redshirt rules.
The three-year All-Ivy League first team selection will face off against football powerhouses including Georgia, LSU, Florida, and South Carolina in the famously formidable SEC. Ivy League transfers to the conference are hardly unprecedented — Vanderbilt snagged a lineman from Penn and a punter from Columbia last season.
“It’s objectively the toughest conference in college football,” the 2017 STATS FCS First Team All-American said of the SEC. “So many great players come out of there, and you also have legendary coaches. [Vanderbilt coach Derek] Mason is just a great person.”
Shelton-Mosley racked up a number of accolades over his three full seasons with the Crimson. A former Ivy League Rookie of the Year, the Sacramento, Calif., native finished his Harvard career with 148 receptions and 1,921 receiving yards — good for third and fifth, respectively — on the school’s all-time lists. The Academic All-Ivy selection also sits atop the Crimson record board in punt return and kick return averages.
Shelton-Mosley also praised the new, more lenient NCAA eligibility system, which is expected to allow more players to pursue transfers or redshirts in the future.
“I’m positive there will be probably more players that consider this route,” he said.
At least one other student-athlete will be following that path this year. Senior quarterback Tom Stewart declared recently that he will be extending his football career with a graduate transfer.
The play caller is headed to Rice University, where he will look to build on a 2018 season in which he took over the starting position in the latter half of the campaign. Stewart suffered a hip injury in the Crimson’s season finale against Yale, but before that disappointing coda came five multi-touchdown games, an Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Week nod, and an All-Ivy League honorable mention.
The Dallas gunslinger’s best performance this year also was one in the history books. Against Columbia, he found paydirt five times, tying a Harvard record. One of those touchdown throws went to junior wideout Jack Cook for 92 yards and now stands as the longest touchdown pass in school history. Stewart totaled 393 passing yards in the contest.
Stewart did not see much game action in his first three seasons with the Crimson.
“My four years here from a football perspective didn’t go quite the way I wanted,” Stewart said. “Had some injuries and then, obviously, they kind of threw me into the fire this year. I feel like I still have a lot of football left in me. I was really hitting my stride at the end of the year, and I just want to keep pursuing that, chasing that dream, and play for as long as I can.”
Stewart, like Shelton-Mosley, spoke favorably of the NCAA’s policy changes to transfers and recruiting.
“They have this new transfer portal, and it means a ton of college guys, especially quarterbacks, switching schools, like Georgia to Ohio State, or Ohio State to Miami,” Stewart said.
The quarterback was contacted by a number of schools and ultimately chose Rice over the University of Richmond.
“Rice’s head coach was up in Boston visiting Justice [Shelton-Mosley], and I was able to meet him,” Stewart said. “I scheduled a visit with them this January and had a great time, decided Rice is the place for me. Division I football with some big games next year, great academic institution, and also my dad went there.”
And while Shelton-Mosley and Stewart are prepping for moves to the SEC and Conference USA, some of their teammates will be gearing up for a shot at the NFL. Among those eyeing the next level are defensive tackles Stone Hart and Richie Ryan, wide receiver Adam Scott, and offensive lineman Larry Allen, Jr., son of Hall of Fame lineman Larry Allen, Sr.
Senior running back Charlie Booker is reportedly also exploring transfer opportunities, per Stewart.
— Staff writer Ben Stern can be reached at email@example.com.
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